It seems as though sequels always have the daunting task of being better than the original films they are based on. This is a fair expectation to have given that if you loved the original, wouldn’t you want to see more? What is difficult to do however, is to provide the same magic that made the first one great, but still make it better. As a director, you want to include as many great characteristics from the original as possible, however you do not want to have just a very slight difference. A sequel should have the ability to be great independently from the original. It is in that sense that you realize just how critical audiences are as well. We all want to be entertained, but when it comes to sequels, in a very particular way. One of the things that is exciting about a sequel, at least from a directing standpoint, is creativity. After watching the success of the first film, you can use your creativity to make the second one great. Of course, you do not want to overload the sequel with much more of everything, but there should be a lot of room to work with and be creative. Not sure about you, but when I learned about the sequel I was surprised. Notice there are some sequels that pleasantly surprise audiences. Others however, simply do not. This film is one of those rare instances where the fans get more of what they want.
Liam Neeson has already continued to prove this year that he is a blockbuster star. Fans will come out to see his films because his performances alone make them very entertaining. Perhaps the quality of the films may be questionable by critics, but more importantly, they entertain audiences. As a director, now that you know that you have the great cast from the original to work with, the big question becomes how will I make Taken 2 great? Something that really makes this series standout is the action. It is difficult to improve on the action of an original film, however you know that with this series, the action will speak for itself. That gives the director more time to work on other areas of the film, such as character development for instance, to make it better. The beauty of the main cast is that not only do they deliver great performances, but it is a very small cast. Audiences enjoy a small cast because it makes it a lot easier to answer their own questions; if they have any throughout the film. They become familiar with the characters, and perhaps, see themselves in those characters. This allows for much great character development in this film than in the original Taken movie.
Character development is easily one of the most overlooked characteristics of a film. Whether the cast is big or small, each character has a vital role in bringing the story to life on screen. They say that the more you watch a film, the more you take from it. This statement is particularly true about the film’s characters. Their performances have a way of speaking directly to you. If you did not get the message the first time, chances are that you will get the message the second or third time that you watch the film. Due to the circumstances and story in the first film of this series, there is really very little to learn about the characters. Everyone knows how Liam Neeson’s character fits into the film, but what is more interesting is to learn more about the lives of his daughter and his ex-wife this time around. There is always something that you can learn from someone when you have a great conversation with them. The way it works in a movie is simple. Directors focus more of their attention on getting other characters more involved in the story; and this is wonderful when it is done in a sequel. Perhaps you thought you knew them in the first movie, but now, you have the opportunity to get to know them even better.
This series would not be possible without the villains that get beaten and blown away by Liam Neeson. What worked well in the first film is that we got to see the danger of having young girls kidnapped, and made prostitutes by a gang of human traffickers. Obviously you never want to cheer for the villains in a film, but for the sake of entertainment, you like to see a good villain that challenges the hero. They were villains that we could not wait to see get defeated. These were villains that had an agenda; they had specific duties that they wanted to fulfill. Now, when you have villains that strictly act out of the hunger for revenge, it is not quite as entertaining. Mainly because the important thing is to seek justice; not revenge for crimes that have been committed. In terms of the film however, you know that a character will not get very far for acting out of revenge. That makes things very predictable for the audience. This is where the emphasis must be placed on the quality of acting of the villain. It is not enough to simply be against the protagonist. Villains have the ability to add to the suspense and unpredictability of a movie, so it is best when they deliver a strong performance that matches their evil intentions to bring the protagonist down.
It should not be news to say that critics have not been very supportive of this sequel to the original film that was released in 2008. It may not have the same wit and fire power of the original, but it is still a film that is entertaining to watch. At the end of the day, that is what matters most to the audience. Perhaps the first question that you ask is: is it worth watching in theaters? Well the answer to that question is yes. Which also means that you can enjoy this film when you watch it as a rental. As usual, Liam Neeson delivers the strong performance that we have come to love and expect from him. He has had a great year, so it is exciting to think about what he will do next year. Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace are the two ladies that really steal the show as they both give a much stronger performance in this sequel. While this may not be a trilogy, it has certainly be fun to see these two films on the big screen. You can only hope that there will be more films like this in the years to come.